CENTRAL PLAINS REGIONAL: Benes paces Papillion to 7-0 victory over BrookingsJ.J. Benes is a pitcher who doesn’t mind his defense working behind him.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
J.J. Benes is a pitcher who doesn’t mind his defense working behind him.
A confident Benes was in command and dealt a dandy as Papillion (Neb.) Pinnacle Bank cruised to a convincing 7-0 victory over the Brookings (S.D.) Bandits in the opening first-round game of the Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament at Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark on Thursday morning.
“A good team like that, you don’t want to try and do too much,” Benes said. “When you have a good team behind you, you want to get them involved, keep them in the game.”
Benes threw a complete-game four-hitter and struck out eight as he stymied a Brookings team that got its bats on the baseball enough, but mostly sent them right toward Papillion gloves.
“Their pitcher did a good job of throwing all three of his pitches for strikes, moving in and out, not really blowing us away but doing a good job of getting ground balls and keeping us off balance,” Brookings coach Rob Hirrschoff said. “And he had good, solid defense behind him.”
Papillion wasn’t without an offensive spark though.
Josh Kramer had a solo home run in the third, his 11th of the season, and a two-run double in the sixth to pad Papillion’s lead and give Benes a relaxing boost.
Matthew Gay and Joey Ludemann each had RBI singles in the second inning to get things going for Papillion, the Nebraska state runner-up.
Aaron O’Dowd had an RBI sacrifice fly to follow Kramer’s third-inning homer and make it 4-0.
Kramer seemed to be the offensive catalyst as Benes helped himself by following the two-run double in the sixth with an RBI single.
“The first inning, we had a slow start. But after that, once we got rolling and settled in and started swinging it,” Kramer said. “Once we got settled in, we’re tough to stop.”
Brookings starter Landon Busch allowed 13 hits over six innings, striking out six and walking four — including three base on balls to Papillion leadoff batter Jake Placzek — to take the loss.
Papillion head coach Jim Thomas, in his 39th season with the team, said the key was scattering hits in nearly every inning.
“We were very fortunate, we think, to get as many good swings on a really good pitcher. That young man is a really good pitcher,” Thomas said, referencing Busch. “…That’s good if you don’t let the opposing pitcher take an inning off here or there to rest, especially in nine-inning ballgames. The nine-inning ballgames don’t seem like much, but the extra two innings make it seem like a marathon.”
Papillion (46-9) moves on to face Edina, Minn., at 5 p.m. today. Brookings (43-9), the South Dakota state champions, plays West Fargo at 10 a.m. in an elimination game.
Benes said opening the tournament with a shutout victory was about as close to perfect of a start as Papillion could get.
“That was big for us,” Benes said. “We’re a big momentum team. When we get momentum, we’re tough to beat.”
Brookings 000 000 000 — 0 4 0
Papillion 022 003 00x — 7 14 0
Landon Busch, Skyler Cary (7) and Kelby Beste. James Benes and Joey Ludemann. W–Benes. L–Busch. HR–P, Josh Kramer.
Highlights: B, Riley Bullington 1-for-4; Kelby Beste 1-for-4; Konner Beste 1-for-4; Thomas McMacken 1-for-3; Busch 6 IP, 7 ER, 13 H, 6 K, 4 BB. P, Benes 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 8 K, 2 BB, 2-for-4, RBI, R; Jake Placzek 2-for-2, 3 BB, R; Matt Gay 1-for-4, RBI; Cole Gruber 2-for-4, R; Kramer 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R; Landen Weisbeck 2-for-4, R; Joseph Ludemann 2-for-4, RBI, R; Matt Safranek 1-for-4.